Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Day 36: Twins @ Pirates

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

News about roster cuts (Garrett Atkins released; Justin Thomas and Fernando Nieve reassigned to Minor League camp) and about Scott Olsen’s setback can be found in previous blog entries from this morning. Here are the rest of your morning leftovers…

  • James McDonald will throw another bullpen session on Wednesday. After that, I would imagine he’d be ready to resume pitching in games. The Pirates have not said how McDonald’s absence will affect his ability to be ready for the start of the regular season.
  • Brad Lincoln’s right arm is still swollen, but he said his range of motion and strength is coming back. Lincoln, who was hit in that arm on Friday, said he hopes to resume throwing (on flat ground) on Wednesday. This means he is definitely missing at least one turn through the rotation.
  • Lefty Joe Beimel had a cortisone shot in his left arm on Sunday. He is not throwing today and will be reevaluated tomorrow. Beimel said he is feeling much better and seems to think he won’t be sidelined long.
  • Garrett Jones is still dealing with some neck/shoulder soreness, though he doesn’t expect the issue to linger. He said he felt a little pop when running on Thursday and that his neck kept getting tighter. He did take six at-bats in a Minor League game on Sunday, so he’s on his way back. Jones is not in the lineup on Monday.
  • Catcher Chris Snyder will get 3-4 at-bats in a Minor League game on Monday. He’ll also put his gear on and catch a bullpen session. Assuming all goes well, Snyder, who was out with back soreness, will then catch in a Minor League game on Tuesday.
  • Shortstop Ronny Cedeno will join Snyder to get at-bats in a Minor League game on Monday. With so many players left in camp, it’s normal for position players to take turn playing in Minor League games simply so they can get their work in.
  • The Pirates announced that they will be having a 3 p.m. workout at Wrigley Field on March 31, the day before the club opens the season. The workout is not open to the public.
  • Steve Pearce is playing left field on Monday. Just another chance for Pearce to showcase his versatility. That corner utility spot is down to Pearce, Andy Marte and Josh Fields. I get the impression that Fields is on the outside looking in.

Lineups:

PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), N. Walker (2B), S. Pearce (LF), L. Overbay (1B), M. Diaz (RF), P. Alvarez (3B), J. Rodriguez (SS), J. Jaramillo (C), P. Maholm (LHP)

Pitchers: P. Maholm (six innings), Garrett Olson, Jose Veras, Sean Gallagher

TWINS: D. Span (CF), M. Tolbert (SS), J. Mauer (C), D. Young (DH), J. Bailey (1B), L. Hughes (2B), B. Dinkelman (LF), C. Lambin (3B), J. Repko (RF)

Pitchers: B. Duensing, M. Capps, C. Gutierrez, J. Hoey, C. James, G. Perkins

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Olsen out of mix for rotation spot; may begin year on DL

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Scott Olsen will not open the season in the Pirates’ rotation, as the left-hander is taking a step back from game action to rebuild arm strength lost when he was down earlier in camp. And with less than two weeks remaining before Opening Day, this means that Olsen could begin the year on the disabled list.

The Pirates and Olsen met on Monday to discuss Olsen’s situation and determined it was necessary to slow things down. General manager Neal Huntington emphasized that Olsen is not injured. He simply is not where he or the club expected him to be this late in camp. The time missed due to a hamstring strain cost Olsen arm strength.

“The ball is just not coming out of his hand the way it was pre-hamstring injury,” Huntington said.

Olsen was expected to be in the mix for a bullpen spot if he lost out on his attempts to dent the rotation. But even that possibility is now in doubt given that Olsen has made just two appearances and is now shut down from Grapefruit League action.

With Olsen officially out of the mix, Charlie Morton is all but assured to be the team’s fifth starter when the season opens.

The Pirates haven’t made anything official regarding Morton’s status, but Huntington had this to say when asked if Morton has pitched his way into the team’s rotation: “Charlie has certainly made a case to have that be the situation. Given what he did yesterday, given what he’s done really all spring, he’s thrown the ball well. He’s attacked the bottom half of the strike zone. He’s let the ball fly. He’s been aggressive. His pace has been good. And the results have been there. It has been very encouraging to see Charlie this spring. Hopefully, he carries it forward.”

Olsen’s situation also affects the potential makeup of the bullpen. Assuming he starts the year on the disabled list, the Pirates have one less left-handed option than they expected. Joe Beimel, Garrett Olson and Brian Burres are all still lefties in the mix for a bullpen opening.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Atkins released; Thomas, Nieve reassigned

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Infielder Garrett Atkins has been unconditionally released by the Pirates, thereby ending his chances to make the team as a backup corner infielder. Atkins was apparently given the news on Sunday and was not in the clubhouse on Monday morning for comment.

Atkins, who signed a Minor League deal with Pittsburgh over the winter, went 4-for-31 and struck out 11 times. It’s unknown whether Atkins is going to try to sign elsewhere or if this will mark the end of his MLB career.

In addition to sending Atkins out, the Pirates reassigned Justin Thomas and Fernando Nieve to Minor League camp. Both signed Minor League deals over the winter and should start out the year in Triple-A Indianapolis’ bullpen. Thomas’ departure means that there is one less left-hander vying for a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen.

The Pirates now have 41 players left in camp.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates 7, Red Sox 5

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

In case you missed it earlier, here is information on Joe Beimel, who did not pitch on Sunday after feeling some tightness in his left elbow. This isn’t a good thing, considering we’re less than two weeks away from Opening Day.

Beimel has only made two appearances so far, and he’s going to miss at least a little bit of time right now. This setback could make the addition of Garrett Olsen that much more important, as he gives the Pirates another potential left-handed reliever option.

General manager Neal Huntington did reiterate after Saturday’s game that the acquisition of Olsen was independent of anything wrong with Beimel. The fact that Beimel first started feeling the tightness on Saturday and then said it increased overnight supports that assertion.

***

Hurdle confirmed that either Paul Maholm or Kevin Correia will be the team’s Opening Day starter in Chicago. An announcement on the choice will come sometime after Maholm pitches on Monday.

“We’re getting closer,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve categorized all the numbers. We have all the information we need. With us, it’s not so much our No. 1; it’s our best way to set up the rotation as we move forward. We’re still considering some things.”

***

Correia threw about 80 pitches in his five-inning start on Saturday. He worked his way out of a first-and-third, nobody-out jam in the first thanks, in part, to a great double play started by Neil Walker.

That allowed Correia to settle in.

“It’s a big pick up,” Correia said of getting out of trouble. “To get that kind of rejuvenates you and wakes you up and gets you going.”

He gave up three runs (two earned) in the fifth, but had minimal trouble in between. Correia’s curveball wasn’t as sharp as it has been at times this spring, but he did have a pretty effective slider working.

“I thought he overthrew early, settled down and got in a real good rhythm,” Hurdle said. “He got the ball down. He used his cutter, threw some good breaking balls. The one thing you can’t replicate is getting the pitcher on base to have to run bases and go out and pitch an inning.”

Correia did spend a good amount of time on the bases. He singled in both at-bats and ended up moving to third on an error right after collecting the second of those two hits. In comparison, the Red Sox’s DH had just one hit in the game.

***

Don’t count out John Bowker in the competition for a bench spot. He has now hit safely in nine of his last 12 games after knocking a home run in his only at-bat on Saturday. The home run came on — you guessed it — a fastball. Bowker has shown no problem hitting fastballs; having more success with breaking pitches is where development is still needed.

Bowker is 9-for-30 this spring.

“It’s going well,” he said. “I’m trying to just get that rhythm and get the timing down like everybody else.”

Bowker is in a different position than most, though. He is out of options, meaning that the Pirates would have to put him on waivers if they don’t add him to the roster. The Pirates already have four outfielders (and maybe five if you count Ryan Doumit as more than a backup catcher).

But Bowker has an ability to play either corner spot and first (as well as center in an emergency), so his versatility could help him earn his way on. The question then would be whether Bowker could thrive in bench role without consistent at-bats.

“That’s something you learn over time when you’re not getting those regular at-bats,” Hurdle said. “The one thing he’s done throughout his career is light up the fastball. I think the thing he is learning is that word gets around the league.”

***

On the main site tonight, you can find injury updates on Brad Lincoln, Chris Snyder and Beimel, as well as Kevin Hart’s reaction to being placed on the DL and a closer look at the middle infield competition.

On a side note, I’m off tomorrow and will not be with the team during the day. I’ll be back blogging on Monday.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Beimel shut down with arm soreness

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

For the second time this spring, lefty Joe Beimel was scratched from a scheduled spring appearance due to soreness in his left arm.

This time, the soreness is in Beimel’s elbow, and the timing of the setback might hinder Beimel’s ability to be ready to join the Pirates’ bullpen by Opening Day.

“It is definitely frustrating and I want to be out there pitching,” Beimel said, after having treatment on his arm. “But at the same time, if I’m pushing too hard to get ready for Opening Day and there is setback, then I’m gone for a lot longer. I think it’s better to take care of it now and then just go from there.”

Beimel, who missed time due to left forearm soreness earlier in March, said he felt his arm tighten up on Saturday. The soreness increased overnight, prompting Beimel to tell the Pirates he would be unable to throw against the Red Sox on Saturday.

The issue is believed to be elbow inflammation and not structurally related, Beimel said, B. At this time, Beimel does not have any additional tests scheduled.

“I just decided it would be better not to push it too hard and go out there today and try to throw through it,” said Beimel. “I definitely don’t want to take any steps back and have something serious happen to it. I’m just going to rest today and come in [on Sunday] and see how it feels.”

With less than two weeks remaining before Opening Day, Beimel cannot afford to be sidelined long. He has made only two appearances so far this spring after getting a late start due to the previous arm ailment. Beimel’s most recent outing came on Thursday, when he gave up three earned runs on three hits in an inning.

Beimel said he didn’t feel any hint of soreness in that outing.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Snyder targets Tuesday return

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Catcher Chris Snyder has his eye on Tuesday as the day he hopes to return behind the plate. Snyder took swings in the batting cage on Saturday morning (15 off a tee and 10 off flip toss) and said his lower back was giving him no problems.

Snyder will likely do more cage work on Sunday and then hopes to be cleared to take batting practice on Monday. Assuming all goes well, Snyder will then play (and catch) in a Minor League game on Tuesday.

If Snyder is able to follow this progression, he said he should be ready to go by Opening Day on April 1.

“If it was any later than early next week then it would have been pushing it,” Snyder said. “Hopefully everything goes well and stays on track and I can stretch it out. Hopefully get nine innings one of those days. Get rolling.”

In other injury news… righty James McDonald threw loss toss (50 throws at 120 feet) and said he felt fine. The plan is for McDonald to throw a bullpen session on Sunday. Still no word on when he might be ready to pitch in a game again.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 34: Red Sox @ Pirates

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

As the Pirates meet with a nutritionist this morning, I bring you today’s morning news and notes…

  • Brad Lincoln was walking around the clubhouse with a sleeve on his right arm after getting hit by a line drive near his elbow on Friday. Lincoln said his arm is very stiff and that he will continue to get treatment today. Normally, he’d be scheduled to throw a side session two days after his last outing (so that would be tomorrow), but his guess now is that he won’t be able to do that. How that might affect Lincoln’s next start is unknown at this point.
  • You can read more on pirates.com later, but Kevin Hart was legitimately disappointed to know that he is going to have to open the season on the disabled list. Until recently, the right-hander truly believed he’d be ready to go by Opening Day. Now, he has no chance of being in Pittsburgh until June at the earliest. “You always think you’re going to be the exception,” Hart said, implying that he thought his recovery from surgery would be quicker than most.
  • Right-hander Chris Resop talked this morning about the difficulty of coming in cold yesterday to finish out the third inning after Lincoln left with the injury. He went with all fastballs to get through that frame and loosen up his arm. Resop did mix in a number of changeups in his next two innings and ended up having a pretty good day. He hasn’t been told he has made the club yet, but I just don’t see a scenario in which Resop isn’t on the 25-man Opening Day roster.
  • The Pirates are on Fox Sports Net today for those of you back in Pittsburgh.
  • Right-hander Jose Ascanio is scheduled to throw batting practice over at Pirate City today. If my memory is right, this will be Ascanio’s second BP session. Usually pitchers are cleared to return to game action after two, so it will be interesting to see if Ascanio makes his first spring appearance next week.
  • Left-hander Garrett Olson, who the Pirates claimed off waivers on Friday, is scheduled to arrive in Bradenton tonight. The tentative schedule is to have him throw a side on Sunday and then pitch in Monday’s game.
  • The following pitchers are scheduled to throw on Sunday: Charlie Morton, Evan Meek, Michael Crotta, Chris Leroux
  • Righty Joel Hanrahan is down to throw one inning in a Triple-A game on Sunday.
  • Steve Pearce is expected to get some playing time at third base today. I have not seen Pearce play third in a game yet, so I’ll be interested to see how he looks there.
  • We’re down to 32 teams in the NCAA tournament after two days of games, and S. Gassert is currently leading the Bucs Bits Bloggers tourney. I’ll update the leaderboard after each round.

Lineups:

PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), L. Overbay (1B), P. Alvarez (3B), M. Diaz (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), D. Brown (C), K. Correia (RHP)

Pitchers: K. Correia, J. Hanrahan, J. Beimel, F. Nieve, J. Thomas

RED SOX: M. Scutaro (SS), D. Pedroia (2B), J. Saltalamacchia (C), K. Youkilis (3B), M. Cameron (DH), D. McDonald (CF), D. Nava (LF), J. Reddick (RF), N. Spears (1B)

Pitchers: J. Beckett, A. Aceves, D. Wheeler

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Phillies 3, Pirates 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Most of what you’re going to want to read today is going to be on the pirates.com tonight, so I’ll refrain from rewriting all of that here. On the main site, you can read about…

  • The Pirates claimed lefty Garrett Olson off waivers and added him to the list of lefties trying to make the bullpen. GM Neal Huntington said the addition was to increase competition. I happen to believe it’s also the the result of the Pirates being worried about their other left-handed relief options.
  • Brad Lincoln left Friday’s game with a right forearm contusion, sustained when he was nailed by a line drive. We’ll know more about the injury on Saturday, but Lincoln didn’t seem to believe the ailment was anything serious. He got lucky that the ball did not hit any bone.
  • Kevin Hart will not be pitching in Pittsburgh until at least June. He has been placed on the 60-day disabled list as the slow recovery from right shoulder surgery continues.
  • Ryan Doumit went 0-for-2, was hit by a pitch and caught five innings in Friday’s game. He reported feeling just fine, so that oblique strain seems to be an issue of the past.

And below are the leftovers, which you will not find on the main site…

***

The Pirates lost this one on a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth. Not that the loss means anything, but the club has now dropped six of its last seven games. Results, manager Clint Hurdle said afterward, will start meaning a little more pretty soon.

“I think right now we need to know what our personnel is,” Hurdle said. “We need to make sure that we get the questions answered that we have for ourselves coming in. The last week … there probably will be a heightened awareness of finishing games off at that point in time.”

***

As mentioned in the early blog, today was a day for those fighting for a bench spot to step up. Josh Rodriguez had a nice 2-for-3 day and Steve Pearce would have had two hits if he hadn’t been robbed on a terrific running catch in the sixth. But otherwise, there was little to get excited about offensively.

With an 0-for-3 day, Garrett Atkins has just one hit in his last 21 at-bats. That certainly is not helping his case in a four-man competition for the corner utility job. Andy Marte, on the other hand, had another hit on Friday and is now 9-for-23 this spring.

“I think we’re evaluating internally and we’ll keep it internal,” Hurdle said, when asked if anyone has stood out. “We’ll let people know as we do that. Obviously at this point in time, we’re close to having another round-them-up meeting to decide what we’re going to do with our personnel. I like the way everybody has gone about their work. I like that we have been able to move those guys fighting for the bench positions around.”

In other words, with 44 players in camp, expect another round of cuts to be coming soon. We are t-minus 14 days away from Opening Day.

***

I probably haven’t been giving Michael Crotta enough due this spring, but he has pitched quite well. Now, it should be mentioned that he has mostly faced reserves and Minor Leaguers since he’s been pitching late in games. But Crotta has gotten the ball down and made an impression.

With another scoreless inning on Friday, he has now not allowed a run in eight Grapefruit League innings. I don’t expect him to be in the Pirates’ bullpen right out of camp, but he could be a fit at some point during the season.

“He’s throwing strikes,” Hurdle said. “He continues to hold his own this spring. He’s done well.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Bucs claim Garrett Olson; Hart moved to 60-day DL

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates have another left-handed pitcher joining camp, as the team claimed Garrett Olson off waivers from the Mariners on Friday.

Olson has pitched in the Majors in parts of the last four seasons. He went 0-3 with a 4.54 ERA in 35 relief appearances last season. He has also started 44 Major League games and has a career 6.20 ERA in 99 total appearances.

General manager Neal Huntington is expected to comment on the acquisition soon, but it’s expected that Olson will jump into the mix to compete for a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen. The club is looking for left-handed relievers, and both Joe Beimel and Scott Olsen have struggled since coming back from early spring injuries.

In order to add Olson to the 40-man roster, the Pirates placed Kevin Hart on the 60-day disabled list. Hart continues to recover from right shoulder surgery.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 33: Pirates @ Phillies

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Catcher Ryan Doumit makes his return to the field on Friday and manager Clint Hurdle will get a really good look at just about everyone competing for a bench spot. Take a look at the lineup and you’ll find most of your backup candidates. Not that one game is going make or break anyone’s chances, but it will be interesting to see if a few particularly shine.

Other morning notes…

  • The Pirates enter Friday’s game having lost five of six. Results aren’t that big of a deal at this point, but the club would like to pick up some victories when their starters are playing — which has been the case a lot in the past week.
  • Brad Lincoln is making his fourth Grapefruit League appearance on Friday, but just his second actual start. He is lined up to go four innings, and this should be a good test as he will go against a number of the Phillies’ regulars.
  • A reminder that Saturday’s 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Red Sox is going to be televised on FSN Pittsburgh.
  • On another programming note, MLB Network will be in Bradenton on Monday to film for the Network’s 30 Clubs in 30 Days. The Pirates’ episode will air on Tuesday night (March 22).
  • The following pitchers are scheduled to throw on Saturday: Kevin Correia, Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Daniel McCutchen.
  • Not sure if you’re paying attention to the calendar, but two weeks from today I’ll be blogging from the Wrigley Field press box. Let the Opening Day countdown begin.
  • And to you Penn State fans out there, I sympathize with you today. Not a particularly good showing last night (or all season, actually) by my Mizzou Tigers, who must now watch the rest of the NCAA tourney on TV.

Lineups:

PIRATES: C. Wimberly (CF), J. Bowker (LF), S. Pearce (RF), R. Doumit (C), G. Atkins (3B), A. Marte (1B), J. Rodriguez (SS), P. Ciriaco (2B), B. Lincoln (RHP)

Pitchers: B. Lincoln, C. Resop, J. Thomas, J. Veras, M. Crotta, C. Leroux

PHILLIES: J. Rollins (SS), S. Victorino (CF), R. Ibanez (LF), R. Howard (1B), R. Gload (RF), P. Orr (3B), C. Ruiz (C), M. Martinez (2B), R. Oswalt (RHP)

Pitchers: R. Oswalt, D. Baez, J.C. Romero, J. Contreras, R. Madson

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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